It was meant to be 4 of us riding today but Scott accidentally got smashed. I think someone spiked his drink — and then the drink after that, and that. Staying out until 4:30am didn’t help either. And Tom had something come up – so it was just me and Shirts.
To understand the reason I say “eek” one needs to understand “Shirts”. Shirts is the hardest, fastest and most enigmatic rider I know. He is also a bit like The Batman. If a car does something evil he usually has the strength and skills to run them down and hold the driver accountable.
Shirts is called “Shirts” cause he often rides sans any attire above the waist. He explained to me once that it is part practical (keeps him cooler), part his image, and part (I suspect) a tiny bit of vanity/intimidation thrown in there. And why not? It works for the Hulk. The Romans during their conquest of Britain would tell stories — perhaps exaggerating — of armies of NAKED Gingas attacking them, adorned with with just shields and swords, snarling and hissing like wild animals. This is kinda the vibe I think of when I think of Shirts. Cause Shirts is actually part-ginga. He may not look it – but ladies – he carries the gene. Just saying.
So back to this morning. I was suddenly faced with this massive ride — over 100km — and just us two. See I ride trying to be considerate of my fellow bikers but at the same time wanting to look just a tiny bit like I have some skills. So in the presence of such awesomeness I knew that I would smash a little too hard at the beginning because I didn’t want to feel like I was constantly holding him up and I didn’t want to be boring. But the crazy thing is that Shirts doesn’t ride like he is trying to push you faster. Usually he rides behind and out of your slipstream. He let’s you set the pace.
The other issue was that without other riders, and because I would be leading, it meant I would be pushing wind the whole time. And it should also be noted the ride was particularly “bumpy” with a not inconsiderable mountain in the middle.
So off we went. My legs felt good and MASHING is such fun. When I looked down at my Garmin at Petrie (about 30kms in) the average speed had crept up over 32km/hr and I knew I was starting to get a tiny bit tired. So I knew this kind of MASHING was not sustainable and I would be in a bit of bother towards the end of the ride. “Oh well,” I thought. “You just might FINALLY learn your lesson today.”
At Dayboro – about 45kms in – we had a quick break and an apricot bar. I said to Shirts, “If you wanna smash ahead, go for it. I’ll see you at the top.” I just remembered that I should tell you all Shirts was on a single speed bike. No gears. And his one “gear” was a pretty massive one.
So he went ahead but was halted by roadworks and only one side of the road available with that automatic traffic light system that lets traffic coming down go, then releases traffic going up. The road seemed deserted so we just kept riding but then BANG! There was a bunch of cars coming at us and I shouted CAR and smashed ahead to reach a gap in the road barriers for us to escape. Once those cars had gone we pushed on as fast as we could to where the road was two-way again.
Then Shirts was away and I settled into the strongest pace I thought was maintainable. The climb wasn’t too steep, indeed I managed to switch down a gear or two at a couple of points, and so I didn’t finish too far behind him.
Elevation profile – see if you can spot where Mt Mee is.
Back at Dayboro we had a break at the bakery. I had a sausage roll, a coffee, a can of coke and a bottle of powerade. But still my stomach felt like a black hole. When we set out again I felt a bit rubbish. Shirts was leading and we were heading into a slight, but quite demoralising headwind. The first bit of decent “up” in the road and I fell behind. Shirts then stopped and let me take the lead again. About 10kms later I felt power returning to my limbs. The food and sugar had finally reached my muscles.
So I felt reasonable and although the average speed had slipped to 29.6km/hr I was able to hold that steady all the way to Samford. We passed a bike race meet that had just wound up and suddenly all these 4WDs were passing us with massively expensive time-trail bikes on their roof or hooked to the back. I wasn’t jealous — I just rode harder. I think there’s something a tiny bit pathetic about transporting a bike in a car to/from a ride. Admittedly I do it myself every once in a while – but I feel pathetic whenever I do!
After a quick break at Samford we hit that hill towards Ferny Grove and it didn’t hurt too much. I thus managed the sustained 5km smash down and picked up my highest speed for the day – 83km/hr!
But that didn’t stop idiot cars overtaking us without giving us much room.
The next challenge was Settlement Road towards the Gap. Again it wasn’t too bad and I caught up to Shirts at Waterworks Road after a very short but fast drop drafting and overtaking cars.
At Ashgrove though, I got a big fat cramp in my right leg and had to stop and let Shirts go. I texted him saying I was fine and would limp home. Embarrassingly I had to walk up a hill at Bardon (pretty sure no one saw me but) and spin very, very slow or coast for the last 4kms. It only damaged the averages by sending it down from 29.9 to 29.7. Cool!
It was a great ride and I was proud of myself, despite my initial unbridled hyper-shirts-induced-enthusiasm. 106kms, 1450m of climbing, 29.7km/hr average speed.
Our first big overnight ride awaits in a few weeks.